Taxpayers can battle pet overpopulation |

Taxpayers can battle pet overpopulation

Carrie Click/Glenwood Springs Correspondent

Leslie Rockey wants Coloradans to know that with a simple check mark, taxpayers can save the lives of countless dogs and cats.

Rockey, Colorado Animal Rescue’s executive co-director, said the organization – also known as CARE – is part of a statewide fund-raising campaign. Called the Colorado Pet Overpopulation Fund, the organization provides money to Coloradans to help pay for the costs of spaying and neutering their pets.

Taxpayers can check off a box on their tax returns and enter a contribution amount. That amount will be deducted from a taxpayer’s refund and distributed to Colorado animal shelters, which subsidize pet owners’ veterinary bills for the procedure.

“It’s much easier to donate this way, because you don’t miss the money,” said Rockey.

In 2003, CARE received $5,000 from the fund. That money in turn was distributed to pet owners by way of veterinarians from Aspen to Parachute who spayed and neutered their pets.

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In addition, CARE spayed or neutered 350 cats and dogs who found their way to the shelter – either through animal control or through their owners.

Multiply those 350 animals by their earlier potential to breed, and you’ll come up with literally thousands of puppies and kittens that these critters would have bred had they been left intact.

Ten pups in one litter

Rockey said every day she sees the effects of animals that haven’t been spayed or neutered. Pebbles, a year-old black and gray speckled Australian shepherd mix from Parachute, is just one example.

Pebbles has her hands – or should we say, her paws – full.

She was tending to her large brood Tuesday morning in an indoor kennel at Colorado Animal Rescue’s shelter, high above Glenwood Springs in Spring Valley.

Ten 3-week-old Australian shepherd-Lab mix puppies – all black except for one speckled like his mom – curled up inside a big dog bed while Pebbles sat patiently beside them.

Rockey said Pebbles’ owners dropped her off at the shelter because they just didn’t have the resources to care for the dog and her offspring. Rockey said the owner told her that when Pebbles went into heat, male dogs started jumping a high fence to reach her.

“Dogs can scale a six-foot fence no problem when they’re motivated,” said Rockey.

Since Pebbles hadn’t been spayed – in fact, she’d never been to a veterinarian – she got pregnant.

“The family was low-income and they were in the middle of moving,” said Rockey. “The woman who brought her in said Pebbles was an outdoor dog, and the puppies were born outside. She told me she thought some of the puppies were dead because it was so cold. She did the right thing to bring Pebbles and the puppies in.”

Tax time a good time

Rockey said tax time is a good time to donate to the fund – but it’s not the only time.

“People can donate to the overpopulation fund throughout the year,” Rockey said.

Rockey said that, besides donating to the fund, it’s important that people take advantage of the money available to all pet owners to spay or neuter their animals.

“A lot of times, it comes down to money,” she said of the reasons why pet owners don’t have the procedure performed on their pets.

“But other times, it might just be that people don’t think of it, or they don’t have an incentive to make an appointment with a vet and have it done,” she said. “We hope to provide that incentive.”

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